Off-Broadway Review: Ice Factory’s “True Right” at the New Ohio Theatre

Off-Broadway Review: Ice Factory Festival’s “True Right” at New Ohio Theatre (Closed Saturday July 15, 2017)
Written by Adin Lenahan, Gemma Kaneko and Brittany Allen
Directed by Gemma Kaneko
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Originally devised by Bess and George, “True Right” is a scrappy and loose retelling of Sam Shepard’s tale of sibling rivalry “True West” without the grit and depth and requisite existential core of the original play. Written by and featuring Gemma Kaneko, Brittany K. Allen, and Adin Lenahan, “True Right” is the third installment in the New Ohio Theatre’s Ice Factory 2017 Festival and – according to the program – claims to be part of Bess and George’s “work for and about the overlooked.” However, the only overlooked entities here are good writing, good direction, and good acting. Unfortunately, none of these ingredients for the success of a play is present and the piece never rises above the level of sophomoric silliness and patronizing pretense.

As in “True West” – and it is sorrowful to compare the two plays – there are estranged brothers, a vacationing mother, and a proposed road trip. The play takes place at the Bush Ranch and consists of scenes of bickering between George W. Bush (Ms. Allen) and the younger (and less successful) Jeb Bush (Ms. Kaneko). Jeb pleas for George to help him in the 2016 Presidential Campaign by traveling with him to South Carolina. George W. baits Jeb as he always has and pummels Jeb with layers of disregard while working on his painting (no screenplays in this one).

The audience learns nothing about anything in “True Right,” certainly nothing of substance about George W, Jeb, Barbara, or the family patriarch George H. W. Bush. The writing rarely rises above lines like the one uttered by Jeb early on while discussing “Bushcare” with his potential campaign manager Sleve Earp (Mr. Lenahan): “Bush is good for oral health!” Maybe there is some obtuse reference to the current Health Care Bill? Perhaps a pretentious pandering to “the overlooked?” Doubtful.

Regrettably, the writers and the director strike out in “True Right” and the audience suffers through eighty-five minutes of deadly discourse.